It’s been my passion to try different kinds of airlines, especially the flag carrier when traveling to certain countries. I want to experience the difference and similarity between each airline, what each of them is lagging behind or superior upon. This flight was also no exception.
This flight was a part of my Vietnam tour to visit some friends in Hanoi and continued to some leisure escape to the Philippines on August last year. Vietnam Airlines surely became my choice and also looking at the business class deal which was very competitive against any other FSC airlines serving Vietnam route, it’s simply a no brainer, just grab the deal and fly.
Vietnam Airlines is improving in all aspects. They are the first among South East Asian carriers that utilize the B787 Dreamliner and also A350 at almost the same time. They also have nice premium product hardware inside the aircraft and the crews are very accommodating to passengers even though still not as attentive as its South East Asian counterparts. They are well-groomed as well especially when VN has just introduced new uniforms for FAs which I think make them look fresh and stunning.
The journey began at Jakarta where I took CGK-SGN flight, probably will post the report later. Transferring in Tan Son Nhat Airport from international terminal to domestic terminal is quite tricky. Even though traveling on a same airline, which in this case is Vietnam Airlines, you still have to collect your luggage and check it in again. But fortunately for connecting passengers to Hanoi, VN has arranged its staff to help this transfer process right after you step inside the arrival hall. They were waiting for you and then put a red sticker on your chest showing that you are a passenger on transit. Reaching domestic terminal needs some 10 minutes walk, so make sure you don’t have tight connecting time, otherwise, there’s a big chance that we might miss the flight.
So, right after clearing immigration procedure and a good 10-minute rush from international terminal, I finally reached domestic terminal. There were a lot of flights going to Hanoi at that time, so the terminal was packed with people waiting for their flights.
Boarding gate view:
At first, I was so excited when making the booking, finding out that the aircraft was supposed to be their new A350. Unfortunately just one day prior, VN sent an email saying that due to some operational reason, they had to change the aircraft to A330-300. Surely a bit disappointed, but nothing could be done about it, so again, just grab the deal and fly.
Boarding agent announced the boarding based on seat numbers, but seemed like no one cared about it. Everyone got up from their seats and started to form a long line, no enforcement from the agents either. However, they do have special lane for Sky Priority boarding, so nothing held me to get on board earlier than others.
Once on board, two female FAs with yellow and cyan Ao Dai were standing in front of the door, smiling and welcoming me on board and then one of them guided me to my seat. Somehow I felt this is going to be a very nice flight. I believe the yellow FA is the purser and the cyan one is the operating flight attendant.
It turned out that the seat on this A330-300 is the new type of business class seat they have. At least, I didn’t have to grieve anymore for the lost of my A350. The seat comes in a complete flatbed type with lots of sophisticated controllers and design, it even has a massage function as well and also a touch-screen controller. An ottoman is there, with sufficient space for storage below it. In-flight magazine, safety instruction card are stored across the seat.
The seat pitch itself is large, nothing much to complain about. Definitely one of the best business class seats I’ve ever tried.
Soon after, the FA came over offering magazines or newspaper. I deliberately picked 3 copies of Vietnamese newspapers. Knowing that I was not a Vietnamese, she looked at me in a curious way, but I just told her that I wanted to take them home as souvenirs in which she replied with the widest smile I’ve ever seen in life.
VN in-flight magazines consist of two types, one called Heritage and the other one called Heritage Fashion. Looks like VN or perhaps Vietnamese people puts a high regard to current fashion and style.
This time, the FA also came to offer some welcome drinks. I chose apple juice.
Blanket is available on demand. VN has soft yet thick type of blanket with a bright blue color and their infamous lotus logo. It felt so comfy when in use.
The flight from Ho Chi Minh to Ha Noi took about 2 hours. 15 minutes after take-off, dinner service commenced. There was no menu card on this flight, so the FA asked each passenger directly what they wanted to have for dinner. As far as I remember, they had 2 choices of main course. I picked the sauté lotus root and vegetables with pork. The dinner came in one tray that contained salad bowl with Italian dressing, cut fruits, the main course, and choices of breads from the bread basket.
The main course was amazing, the pork was so tender and juicy with all the sauce and the lotus root itself was very crunchy and sweetish. A perfect catering from VN, good job!
After dinner service, there were no other services from the crews. AVOD was also not activated so the thing which was shown on screen was just about some commercial from Vietnam Airlines and also some video introducing tourism spots in Vietnam.
So for the rest of the flight, I tried to get some sleep on its flatbed mode. The seat was completely turn-able to flat bed, the cushion was quite hard though. For my size, it still has some space even when turning around during sleep. The FAs sometimes also walked around to check the passenger’s well-being.
We encountered frequent turbulence due to stormy weather along the way to Ha Noi, but I still managed to catch some sleep for some half an hour. And after 2 hours of flight, I finally reached Ha Noi Noi Bai Airport. And within minutes by using ASEAN lane which was quite empty at that time, I managed myself to enter Ha Noi safe and sound.
Bonus picture: With the captain of the flight and the two lovely FAs serving business cabin
Ho Chi Minh City - SGN
Hanoi - HAN
Vietnam Airlines business class product is beyond my expectation on this aircraft, given the new type of seat, great food, beautifully crafted chinaware, and specially the crews who did a very good job. I would say that I'd definitely have no hesitation on flying with them again since they have always been improving and becoming a much better carrier in the region.
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